Fortune Favors the Prepared Mind

Kunk Fu Zoby Kung Fu Zu11/30/16
After returning to America, my family and I were for years devoted viewers of the game show, “Wheel of Fortune.” Almost every week day evening at 5:00 you would find us sitting in front of our TV listening to Pat Sejak ad lib and watch Vanna White touch blank rectangles, which magically turned into letters of the alphabet.

As anyone who has seen the program will know, the show concludes with the so-called “Bonus Round.” This is where the person who has won the most money in the previous rounds has the chance to win further money or prizes by solving a final puzzle. The contestant is shown a puzzle which is mostly blanks and he or she then may choose three consonants and one vowel in the attempt to fill in the blanks. Once this is done, the contestant is given ten seconds to come up with the correct answer. Win or lose, the solved puzzle is revealed to the viewing audience in the theater and at home.

At a point in time before we started watching the program, someone at Wheel of Fortune had the bright idea of using the Bonus Round puzzle as a way to promote faithful viewership. All one had to do to win $5,000.00 was note the Bonus Round puzzle of the day and hope the people at Wheel of Fortune would call you and ask you to repeat it. To get on the call list, one simply had to go on line and register at the official Wheel of Fortune webpage. Nothing could be simpler. I am skeptical of such things, but my wife, whose philosophy is “What do I have to lose?” went ahead and registered online accordingly.

Of course, the years went by as we faithfully watched Pat and Vanna gracefully age, but the telephone did not ring.

One summer, a business friend from Singapore visited us for a couple of weeks and disturbed our schedule somewhat. Even so, either my wife or I would make sure one of us watched the show.

The day before my friend was to return to Singapore, he and I got into a serious discussion about some potential business. Our discussion had been going on for some time when the telephone rang. I recalled that my wife was out so I went to the kitchen and picked up the receiver.

“Hello”, I said.

The voice at the other end asked, “Could I speak to Mrs. Kung?”

I replied, “She’s out, can I help you?”

The voice then said, “This is so and so calling for Wheel of Fortune,…if you can tell me tonight’s Bonus Round puzzle you will win $5,000.00.”

At first I was stunned, then I was really, really pissed off. Hugely disappointed, I had to admit that I had no idea.

The disembodied voice on the line replied, “I’m sorry that you didn’t have the answer, but want to thank you for being a regular viewer of Wheel of Fortune. Good Bye.”

I hung up. And the only thing which I could say was, “Damn, damn, damn.” Literally, the one day neither my wife nor I had tuned into to “Wheel of Fortune” they decided to call us. Did they have some camera on my TV or something?

I went back and explained the situation to my friend. All he could do was give me a sympathetic/apologetic smile.

I am not someone who has ever won the lottery. Hell, the most I can recall winning is a salami at some bingo night in Switzerland almost forty years ago. Therefore, I am sure the reader can imagine my irritation at missing this chance to win $5,000.00!!!

And the worst part is that nothing ever came out of those business discussions.


Kung Fu Zu is a conservative prognosticator who has traveled widely and lived outside the United States. He will sometimes buy a vowel when he needs it. • (649 views)

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16 Responses to Fortune Favors the Prepared Mind

  1. Gibblet says:

    Oh no! What are the chances of that happening that way? Well, at least you avoided being struck by lightening!

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    I know what you mean about luck. When I was a senior at Purdue, some sort of carnival came around, and I visited it with some friends. They had some sort of bingo, and we went there quite a bit and dropped a modest amount of money — but I never won. We only enter the lottery when the prize is super-large (and it’s been a long time since we did even that), and never won. (Not even when I joined an office pool.) Games of chance haven’t been good for me. (It’s been a long time, but I occasionally went to the race track, and my record there was pretty poor as well. ) Good thing I’m not addicted to gambling.

  3. Glenn Fairman says:

    I do very well playing at home on these shows. But if I became a guest, I know I would freeze like a popsicle. My wife has very good luck in Vegas, but I find it an absolute bore. She wins, and I complain.

    • Lucia says:

      When we visit my husbands family in Vegas, they gamble while I watch people. It’s the only way I can ignore the stink of cigarettes and the boredom. Thankfully, they run out of money pretty fast.

  4. Rosalys says:

    Years ago, My husband and I spent a week in Atlantic City. I took a few walks through the casinos just to see what they were all about, and to admire the tacky architecture, but I didn’t gamble. At the end of the week I found I had about 35 cents in pennies; there were billboards advertising penny slots, so I figured, what the heck! When I went in, I found out that you just can’t put your pennies into a slot machine. You had to buy a card or something for $5 and use that, I don’t know how. I never learned how, because I wasn’t going to spend $5, when all I wanted to do was use up my 35 pennies. I took my 35 cents and walked out!

    • Timothy Lane says:

      In Richard Powell’s hilariou Pioneer Go Home there’s a scene in which the protagonist, Toby Kwimper (think of Forrest Gump) is visiting a casino that opened up next door. Noticing someone play a slot machine, he observes that the guy would no doubt laugh at the idea of having a job pulling a crank — but here he was paying for the privilege.

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